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Godsmack
By Lisa Amaya

On the phone, Godsmack drummer Shannon Larkin is laidback and easy to talk with.

His perspective on music, life and his bandmates is funny and interesting.

“We're not Justin Timberlake,” he says from Salt Lake City, Utah. He describes the band's appearance as “not pretty, with a lot of tattoos.”

Godsmack will play tomorrow night at the El Paso County Coliseum, along with two other hard rock bands, Breaking Benjamin and Hour Cast.

Judging from a concert of theirs I went to in Phoenix two years ago, Godsmack can rock and leave your ears buzzing for about a week. The Boston-based band's latest album, “Godsmack IV,” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200. Their hit songs, “Speak” and “Shine Down,” are heard on rock stations around the world. They've managed to score 13 top-10 hits and earn several award nominations.

Despite all of their accomplishments, Larkin, who hails from Reston, Va., says he never takes his position for granted - touring the world and getting signed with a major record label.

“(Every year) about 4,000 bands send in demo tapes,” he says. “About 1 percent get a record deal and 0.5 make it to gold.”

He says competition only gets stiffer with more bands trying to land their big breaks. He said it is unfortunate when he listens to a band that sounds like The Beatles, and they can't get a record deal with a major label.

Larkin considers his band lucky because it's recorded four full-length albums and toured with heavy metal veterans Metallica and Rob Zombie.

“Touring with Metallica was a dream come true. They're a huge influence on us,” he says. Godsmack picked up thousands of additional fans when Metallica took the band under its wing, he says.

This isn't the first time the band's played El Paso. Larkin recalls El Paso as being “a fun city that gives good energy during performances.”

“We try to be a tight, live band. I start feeling my drums and the size of the crowd,” he says of a typical gig.

Godsmack is the baby of lead singer Sully Erna, Larkin says. Erna and Larkin have been friends for about 15 years.

“Sully writes about himself and his life issues,” says Larkin, who joined the band more than four years ago.

The only two songs that have a direct meaning for him are “Voodoo” and “Serenity.” The former song is about Wes Craven's film, “Serpent of the Rainbow.” “Serenity” is about the band's experiences with Neil Peart, drummer and lyricist of the progressive rock band Rush.

Breaking Benjamin

A band's career can change overnight. What's Up caught up with Breaking Benjamin last year when they headlined a show at Corral Nightclub. Back then, lead singer Benjamin Burnley was unsure of their future. Today, the band continues to make a name for itself with a recently released album and appearances on late-night talk shows.

“Nothing lasts forever,” Burnley said last year. “There'll be a day when people will be like, 'Breaking who?'”

Breaking Benjamin began their music career performing at clubs and coffee shops in Wilkinsburg, Penn. The band became locally successful and their songs received radio airplay. Their music spread to larger cities around the country.

“Eventually I was in the right place in the right time,” he said of the band's discovery and record deal with Hollywood Records.

Burnley said his best asset to the band is writing music.

“I just like it. It's just something that comes natural to me,” he said

One of Burnley's fondest memories was being mentored by Smashing Pumpkins lead singer Billy Corgan.

“'Just try and think outside of the box. Words don't have to rhyme. You don't have to follow the same structure,'” was Corgan's advice to Burnley, who added, “It was cool learning from a living legend.”